Root yourself with your flag

Root yourself with your flag

Present day society is facing one of the most complex and difficult scenarios of being able to accept diversity. Why am I bringing this up? In the past years, the topic of being a foreigner or cultural "outlier" in foreign soil has become a theme almost too delicate to touch. Whether you are an undocumented or documented individual living in a place other than your native country, issues arise.

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Leaving political issues aside, acceptance has shown to be a recurring issue in many communities. Often, a person who has come into another country is often forced or socially pushed to adapt to the new and leave the old behind. The problem with this is that you are not asking someone to change into a new pair of socks, you're telling them to get new feet. While this is a weird analogy, think about it. A person's life doesn't begin the moment they set foot in a new environment. Rather, it is the trajectory that led them there that shapes a person's life. When you make fun of someone for having broken English, you are highlighting their alienation from the rest, and neglecting that behind that person was once a child who cried because they thought they'd never be able to master the language. When you say someone's religious practices are ridiculous and that if they were more "cultured" they wouldn't be worshipping a cross, a Buddha, or fasting for Ramadan, take a look to see why they are so adamant about giving thanks to their deity. If you cannot understand them, try to learn from them.

Remaining rooted to your natal soil is not just for the mere purpose of honoring it, but it preserves you as a person. Personally, going away from home became a major moment for me as a Mexican. I enjoyed living among other cultures and discovering new ways of life. However, the day came when I felt I was losing my roots in trying to assimilate completely. In a sense, I felt an immense longing that not even the beautiful scenery could make up for. I began bringing in more of my home into my new one, and with it brought a cementing of my identity. Yes, I was a San Franciscan now, but at the end of the day a Mexican living in San Francisco. At first, I was reluctant to tell people I was from Mexico. The political scene had left too much dirt on my country, and I was afraid that telling people where I came from would hinder my abilities to move through the professional and social scene. Like me, I have met many people in the same situations. Where only one country is named supreme while the rest are inferior. It is because of these ideologies that many of us are not just ostracized, but worst of all made to question our roots.

Being a foreigner in another country does not make you a parasite. Having different practices, speaking more than one language, and having different musical and gastronomic tastes makes you unique. It is uniqueness that has produced the greatest minds and most influential people. It is an advantage, to an extent, knowing that the world is not comprised of a single area of land. It is almost as if you come to understand each other. Being an "outsider" in a new country establishes an unspoken language between everyone. Everyone is there for a reason, fortunately, in my case, it has been to study. But others have had to leave their places to seek a better life. When racism and superiority replace humanity, it doesn't make you look true to your country or protector of your people, it makes you look ignorant, it makes you look stupid. Getting in my face telling me and many others how we will all be wiped out and sent back home won't make you more macho, again, you look stupid. Because let me leave one thing clear, no one leaves their country and their identity for fun. The difference between traveling and migrating is that one was for pleasure and the other for necessity, evolution. For those of us who see the world from another perspective, who have come to experience different cultures and ways of life, I assert you that this racism set by leaders is not so much about speaking for the people, it is a way of displaying and playing with their power. Of course, there are people who want to keep their races "virgin" from others, and people afraid of change. However, if you come into a country other than your own, do it for your people, for your country, and for those who will come after you. Never compromise your identity, your roots, and the values your culture taught you from the moment you began to learn. Opposition is something inevitable, but persistence is very much alive regardless of politics and borders.

I'm proposing that you embrace your culture. Wherever you are. That for every remark about being Mexican, Middle Eastern, Black, Asian, and whatnot you put your flag tight around you while you work, and let it wave at the peak of success.

Cover Image Credit:

photo by JaySpeaks

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.
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What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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To Fix Taxes, We Have To Rethink 'Wealthy'

"Wealthy" doesn't mean the same for everyone.

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When discussing taxes today, so many politicians are quick to rush to the adage "tax the rich." Bernie Sanders has called for the rich to be taxed higher to pay for Medicare for All. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for a 70% tax on the wealthy.

However, all of these proposals are missing a key thing: a true definition of rich.

When thinking about what counts as rich, it is important to distinguish between the "working wealthy" and the "investment wealthy."

The working wealthy are the people in society that get paid highly because they have a high skill set and provide an extremely valuable service that they deserve just compensation for. This class is made up of professionals like lawyers, doctors, and CEOs. In addition, the working wealthy are characterized by another crucial aspect: over a long term calculation of their earned income over time, they don't come out as prosperous as their annual incomes would seem to suggest. This is because this set of the wealthy has to plunge into student debt for degrees that take years to acquire. These jobs generally also require a huge amount of time invested in lower-paying positions, apprenticeships, and internships before the big-money starts coming in.

On the other hand, the investment wealthy is completely different. These are the people that merely sit back and manipulate money without truly contributing to anything in society. A vast majority of this class is born into money and they use investments into stocks and bonds as well as tax loopholes to generate their money without actually contributing much to society as a whole.

What makes the investment wealthy so different from the working wealthy is their ability to use manipulative techniques to avoid paying taxes. While the working wealthy are rich, they do not have AS many resources or connections to manipulate tax laws the way that the investment wealthy can. The investment wealthy has access to overseas banking accounts to wash money though. The investment wealthy can afford lawyers to comb over tax laws and find loopholes for ridiculous prices. This is tax evasion that the working wealthy simply does not have access to.

That is why it is so incredibly important to make sure that we distinguish between the two when discussing tax policy. When we use blanket statements like "tax the rich," we forget the real reasons that the investment wealthy are able to pay such low taxes now. Imposing a larger marginal tax rate will only give them more incentive to move around taxes while squeezing the working wealthy even more.

Because of this, in our taxation discourse, we need to focus first on making sure people pay their taxes, to begin with. Things like a tax of Wall Street speculation, capital gains taxes, a closing of loopholes, and a simplification of the tax code. These things will have a marked improvement in making sure that the investment wealthy actually pays the taxes we already expect of them now. If we stick to the same message, the only thing we will be changing is the rate that the uber-wealthy are avoiding.

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